Your Thoughts Thursday: Vegan For All

September 23, 2010 by Keri

I know a lot of you, like me, aren’t vegan for your health.  And I know a lot of you do eat a vegan diet because of the health benefits.  Intentions aside, most of us are thriving and can’t imagine life any other way.  We hear so many success stories of people turning their health around with veganism, many of them with no more than ethical reasons for going vegan in the first place.  A lot of us feel no one has any reason not to go vegan.  Some argue the vegan diet takes extremely careful planning, and others say yes, but no more than any other diet.  But sometimes we come across those who are planning their vegan diet very carefully, getting all the recommended nutrients, and still just aren’t feeling healthy.  They don’t want to give up veganism, but it comes to point where they have to listen to their doctors and loved ones and really question if their vegan diet could be preventing their wellness.  What do you think?  Does veganism work for absolutely everyone?

  • Do you think some people just can’t thrive an a vegan diet?
  • If so, why do you think those people are unable to get what their body needs from a plant-based diet while most of us do so well?
  • If you began to experience health problems you felt were stemming from your diet, what would you do?
  • How extensively would you try to make veganism work for you?
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I Eat Trees is a blog featuring my adventures in all things vegan. My favorite recipes, snack food finds, and restaurant trials are all on the menu so enjoy!

Comments

  1. Krys says:

    I think that if veganism isn’t working for a person, they need to look and see if they have balance in their diet. Check to see if they are lacking certain nutrients, vitamins, etc. I have had serious low iron in the past where it was affecting my health. I did research as well as asked my doctor what vegan foods are iron rich. I am no longer anemic. I think that if people do their research, ask a dietician/nutritionist, a vegan diet can work for them.

    Sometimes I think that people who say vegan diets don’t work for them is the fact that they don’t want it to work for them or just don’t care. They aren’t going into it 100%, so the first time there is difficulty, they immediately give up instead of moving forward.

  2. Nadia says:

    I do believe that vegan/vegetarian can work for everybody, but an informative one. You just need to know from where to get the proteins your body wants, the vitamins, the omega 3’s, etc, etc…

    Most of the people just stop eating meat and dairy, and say I’m a vegan. But they don’t do any other changes to their diet, which are crucial for their health.

    So, you just have to be a smart vegan, and everything will be fine 🙂

  3. Jessi says:

    I don’t think it is for everyone. Depending on where you live and what you do. I went Vegan cold turkey in February. I live in Richmond Va. So while we are a city. It is still small and southern. Lots of fried, butter soaked, mayo coated meat items everywhere. Most restaurants don’t offer a vegetarian item much less a vegan item other than a salad. So going out is HARD. We just got a Whole Foods this year and that is really the only place to find any Vegan items and it is a SMALL Whole Foods (i used to live in Vegas so i have comparison of how things out west differ). Plus, with my line of work we have a LOT of corporate dinners and events. Many i can’t even eat the salad because they already have covered it in cheese and some creamy dressing and the only vegetarian option is vegetables cooked in butter touching the meat or a lasagna smothered in cheese.

    So i understand how easy it is to get discouraged and give up. It is HARD. You just have to have the conviction (either for health or for the environment or for the animals).

    Since being Vegan i FEEL healthier but whenever i try to donate blood my iron is too low to be able to do so.

    Anyone CAN do it, they just have to work at it. Plan. Stay focused.

    • rick says:

      I am beginning to think of veganism more as a philosophy than as a set of rules. It is really everyone’s choice what they put in their body. If a person makes a decision that favors compassionate eating, at least for that moment, they are acting according to the vegan philosophy. Branding people as this or that is not really necessary.

      I think of the vegan movement as an extension of the Gandhian peace movement. The way we will replace our culture of violence with a culture of peace is one person at a time, as individuals choose to practice a philosophy of nonviolence to themselves, non-violence to others, non-violence to all sentient creatures and non-violence to the Earth.

  4. cleaninggirl says:

    •Do you think some people just can’t thrive an a vegan diet?

    I think some people may find it difficult thriving on a vegan diet if they suffer from many food allergies limiting what they can eat, BUT I think with a little research you can find a way of making it work for you. I think the hardest part would be if you have a soy intolerance as many vegan products contain this, however there are more and more vegan products being made for people with intolenances in mind.

    •If so, why do you think those people are unable to get what their body needs from a plant-based diet while most of us do so well?

    As I said allergies can be a huge problem for some people as well as a dislike for the taste of certain foods (I personally can’t stand baked beans but I love the bean that is used for baked beans it’s the sauce that ruins it for me.) But being fairly new to veganism (been vegan for just over a year) I’m learning more and more about what is available and am surprised at the HUGE amount of alternative that are out there I think if you look in the right places (the internet is a wonderful thing) you can find what you need but you have to be prepared to experiment with foods things you may not of liked pre vegan you might learn to love as your tastebuds change and you make alot of your own dishes but as I have found recently my job makes it hard for me to make a cooked meal for dinner so I make things either in bluk so it will do more than 1 day or cooking foods that are quick to make.
    An important thing I have learnt is that if I feel that I am not getting enough of vitaimns in my diet (this can happen with my work schedual that I don’t eat a good dinner or I end up missing meals) I take vitamins as a precausion as I try and listen to what my body is telling me (if I feel lightheaded I know I need a sugar boost or if I feel over tired I need more iron ect) I think alot of peoples issues is that they have forgotten how to listen to their bodies.

    •If you began to experience health problems you felt were stemming from your diet, what would you do?

    If I felt that my diet was effecting my health I would look at what I am eating and what I could eat in it’s place that is better for me as well as making sure I’m getting enough vitaims with supplements. I wouldn’t stop being vegan because I was eating wrong I would change how I’m eating not what I’m eating (unless it was something that is making me ill)

    •How extensively would you try to make veganism work for you?

    I personally will do whatever it takes to make my vegan diet work for me every day I make choices over what I eat being as careful as possible to make sure I’m eating the right things. To me there isn’t another route I want to go I came into veganism for ethical AND health reasons I cannot and willnot go back to eating animal products, it’s unbearable whenever I see meat or cream, milk ect I see what it used to be or where it came from and it makes me not only sad but sick at the thought of putting that into my body.

  5. Do you think some people just can’t thrive an a vegan diet?

    I do think that some people just can’t thrive on a vegan diet. I think each person’s dietary needs are different and certain people need more of certain nutrients. Some people do much better getting the nutrients that are only available in animal products.

    If so, why do you think those people are unable to get what their body needs from a plant-based diet while most of us do so well?

    Like I said, each person’s body is different.

    If you began to experience health problems you felt were stemming from your diet, what would you do?

    Research and then change my diet.

    How extensively would you try to make veganism work for you?

    I am not a vegan. I have tried a vegan diet (for health reasons) but feel I do better with eating a small amount of animal products.

  6. Sava says:

    I would really like to think that anyone can thrive on a vegan diet. It is my opinion that if their current vegan diet isn’t working, to try adjusting it.

    But then again,
    I do know that every individual is different and I am not a doctor, so I am willing to accept it as a sad fact IF it turns out that “everyone” cannot.

  7. James says:

    I hope everyone can do well on a vegan diet, but right now we don’t know for sure. We do, however, know a lot, and if you’re having trouble you can find help. I would encourage anyone to check out veganhealth.org and see what kinds of nutritional issues have caused trouble for vegans in the past, and how those issues might be addressed.

  8. I think veganism can be for anyone and everyone. When i first went vegan (for health reasons originally) i was completely lethargic all the time. But then i tried eating more. Tempeh and peanut butter were both big things that helped. Or when i went over board on eating too much vegan food (if there is such a thing as too much) then a simple salad or just some spinach was my cure. I felt much better the next morning. Give your body time to adjust to the dramatic changes. In my opinion, you will feel much better!

    -Andrew-

  9. Happy Aly says:

    I really don’t like pulling the “I’m from Alaska” card constantly, but when it comes to veganism for all, it’s much more necessary. There are thousands of people here who come from cultures and live in areas where living on a 100% vegan diet is just not possible – there is no way to grow vegetables year-round, what they do get shipped in is far from fresh and terrifyingly expensive (we’re talking $5 for a head of old lettuce), and their culture dictates a respect for hunting that I think is heavily underestimated for those not exposed to their culture. They have a respect for animals and a subsistence lifestyle that their families have been doing for thousands of years. They don’t eat bigag raised/grown beef and chicken. They kill only what they need to eat and use much of the rest.

    Do I think in a perfect world it would be great if people went vegan? Sure. Do I think it’s going to happen? Probably not. I’d much rather see the treatment of animals on farms become more ethical and respectful than pumping them with hormones and antibiotics than try and make every human vegan. That said, I truly don’t plan on changing my choices as a vegan anytime soon.

    I do think most people can thrive on this diet, they just need to be informed on what they need and monitor their nutrition.

    • R. says:

      You make a really good point about people living in rural Alaska (and other very rural places), when you’re living a subsistence lifestyle, especially in an inhospitable climate, it’s just not realistic to be vegan or even vegetarian. (I’m pulling my “I’m from Alaska card” here too, so you’re not the only one.) I also agree with the point that their culture, and the way they related to the animals they eat and the natural environment is very different from mainstream American culture.

      I think there are some people who legitimately have a lot of difficulty maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet. I know a woman with Celiac disease who has tried multiple times to become a vegetarian, and despite being careful, she has become ill every time (and not just “I don’t feel so good” ill). I’m sure there are vegetarian and vegan people with Celiac disease, but in her case, it just doesn’t seem to be workable. There are probably other people out there who have similar problems. That said, I think the majority of people who give up on being vegetarian or vegan because they “don’t feel well” are mostly lacking in commitment. And no, that’s not a judgment about them as people, merely an observation that making lifestyle changes is hard, and if you don’t really believe in something, you’re a lot less likely to stick with it.

      In the interest of disclosure, I’m vegetarian, and while I eat vegan most of the time, I have occasional lapses involving dairy or eggs. We aren’t always the people we’d like to be.

  10. I have to be honest. I just don’t know. I began eating vegan for health reasons but have learned so much and it’s completely changed my life.

    I was out running the other morning. Long story short there was a bunny, sick or injured, don’t know. In the middle of the road at 5:30 a.m., dark, and it wouldn’t get out of the road. I was literally stopping traffic to try to keep the bunny safe. I couldn’t pick it up (rabies?) and the bunny literally couldn’t get out of the road. Finally it was close to the curb and I started running again. Sobbing. I failed the bunny.

    I cannot imagine eating an animal, or it’s byproduct, knowing what I know about how animals are “manufactured” in this country. If my doctor told me I was risking my life by not eating animals or their products I would either get a new doctor or I would tell the doctor that she needed to use her brilliant mind to help me find total wellness, without an animal. And this is JUST ME. Whatever you need to do, you need to do.